People with HIV don’t only suffer from the symptoms of HIV and AIDS. Rather they are also assaulted with other health related issues that range from co-infection with Hepatitis C and TB to syphilis, abnormal lipid levels as a result of the medication or increased risk to certain types of cancers. Co-infection with hepatitis C and TB do cause an increased risk complications and death.
Co-infection with Hepatitis C has been identified in 33% of cases of people who also have HIV. New Public Health Services guidelines have included HCV as an opportunistic infection that is associated with the HIV infection. Researchers are just beginning to understand, after years of investigation, how co-infection with HCV and HIV affects the body.
In 1988 HCV was identified as one of the leading causes of liver damage and disease. HCV usually develops slowly. People can live for up to 10 to 30 years before they notice signs of the disease and begin to feel sick. But when they are co-infected with HIV people develop symptoms that are more severe much more quickly. This leads to serious liver disease and damage. Studies now reveal that HCV multiplies up to 8 times faster in people who are also infected with HIV.
Recently new combination treatment therapies have been approved by the FDA to treat both the HCV and the HIV. However, these treatments are not successful in each case. The treatment is affected by the gender, race, age, type of HCV, DNA of HIV, and how long they’ve been infected. People often have serious side effects from the treatment.
Researchers have also found that as people live longer with more vigilant treatment protocols End Stage Liver Disease in people who are co-infected with HCV has become the leading cause of death.
Because the combination of drugs used to treat both the HIV and HCV affects the health and performance of the liver, and because the liver is so vital to the continued health of the person suffering from HIV, doctors often choose to treat HCV first when the CD4 count is above 500 and the viral load is low. In this instance the person with HIV will be in a healthier state with their HIV that can be left untreated for the interim while the HCV is treated. This helps to protect the liver from undue damage. Co-infection with Hepatitis C and TB is more rare than co-infection with just Hepatitis or TB.
TB is an airborne disease spread through the air but it is particularly dangerous to people who have HIV. World wide TB is the leading cause of death among people infected with HIV.
In the United States there are an estimated 10 to 15 million people infected with the bacteria who have the potential to develop active TB in the future. Only 10% will develop TB in their lives however, the risk of developing the disease if you are also infected with HIV is 100 times greater.
The CDC estimates that 10 to 15% of all TB cases and 30% of cases among people 25 to 44 are in people also co-infected with HIV. This underscores the necessity of all individuals who are infected with HIV be tested for TB. If they are infected with TB a complete preventative therapy should be instituted as soon as possible to prevent the activation of the tuberculosis.
But the threat is even greater. TB also has a strain of MDR TB or Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis which is extremely difficult to treat and can be fatal. In people with HIV this resistant form is even more difficult to treat.
Co-infection with Hepatitis C and TB in people suffering from HIV is a real threat to the longevity of the person fighting the HIV virus. Recent studies and research continues to add to the treatment protocols used for these diseases but the issues continue to be the damage done to the liver from both the diseases and the treatments.